CANBERRA, AAP – Most of Australia’s lowest paid workers will receive almost $20 extra a week from next month but employer groups and unions have raised concerns with the increase.
The Fair Work Commission revealed on Wednesday the national minimum wage will rise 2.5 per cent to $772.60 per week or $20.33 an hour.
Workers covered under aviation, fitness, tourism and certain retail sector awards will have their pay rise delayed until November 1.
General retail award workers will have to wait until September 1 for a wage bump.
The remainder of the 2.3 million people on award rates or the national minimum wage will see the $18.80-a-week increase from July 1.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the increase was too high given low-paid workers had benefited from income tax hikes.
“The increase will put even more distance between Australia’s national minimum wage and minimum wages in other countries,” he said.
“The decision sends a very bad signal and is likely to impact adversely on the recovery. At the current stage of the recovery, the focus needs to be on boosting employment.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus criticised the decision to delay to rise in some sectors.
“This wage increase has come about because of unions. The Morrison government and big business wanted pay cuts or freezes,” she said.
“However, it is extremely disappointing that the commission has delayed increases for any workers – but especially those who have worked throughout the pandemic and whose employers have posted record profits.”
Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash said the government respected the independence of the expert panel which makes the annual minimum wage decision.
“Australia’s minimum wage is already the highest in the world according to the OECD,” she said.
“Creating and growing more jobs for Australians has been an integral part of the Morrison government plan for economic recovery. More Australians in work drives upward pressure on wages.”
Labor’s industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said the delays hit essential workers, who were heroes of the pandemic, hard.
“The increase may well have been higher if the government had lifted a finger to advocate for a wage rise. It refused to do so,” he said.